A$$ Whipping

Years ago, I took one of my horses, Lucy, to her first Advanced at Morven Park Horse Trials in Virginia. I vividly remember overhearing someone talk about someone else as the ultimate cross country rider. It was an Olympic rider who I looked up to. “He never makes it look hard, he is so smooth and effortless and never seems to struggle”. I wanted to emulate that rider so badly. In my head, I equated smooth and effortless as not setting up for a jump, and just letting the jump come to me.

At Morven they had a very wide, open oxer at the top of the hill, and it was as wide and gaping as an Advanced oxer can be. It was there that I thought I would let the jump come to me, and emulate my idol.

And come that jump did… in an ugly way. We made it over, but it was not a pretty example of how to jump a jump. I knew it was ugly, but when I crossed the finish line it was already out of my head because I was so thrilled with Lucy’s performance at her first Advanced run, and so I forgot about it.

I was at the competitor’s party that night, and I will never forget Karen O’Connor coming up to me and ripping me a new crack up my backside. She had seen my ride to the oxer and she was horrified by it. She didn’t care who was listening or what they thought of the conversation, she only cared that I heard her loud and clear. It was a very humiliating moment to be called out by one of the best riders in the world that I did a shit poor job of piloting my horse and I put my mare’s safety in jeopardy.

I have NEVER made that mistake again on any horse.

I did not personally attack any riders in my blog, I wrote it because it is extremely personal to me. I know what it is like to make mistakes and I also know that Karen was absolutely right and her ass-ripping made me a better rider in a mere 3 minutes. Which is shorter than any riding lesson that I have ever taken.

I don’t want to chastise anyone, but I do want the riders to be safe. If I have insulted anyone, I apologize, that was not my intent. My intent is that all riders, myself included, need to take responsibility for their actions, whether written or ridden.

4 Responses to “A$$ Whipping”

  1. Beth Daniels

    HI Meika,
    So great to read these last two posts of yours. You are an excellent writer(not that I am in the least surprised, mind you) and you have addressed a really critical issue. I was a jump judge for the Pan Am Games when they were in Indianapolis is the late 80″s(so long ago I can’t exactly remember which year!) and I was appalled at how many riders rode as if they had no awareness. No half-halts, no setting the horse up, clearly not in balance. Now, most of them made it over without incident, but now and then a rider came along who was the real deal. The horse was forward without running off its feet. and the horse and rider were clearly a harmonious pair. It was a thing of beauty to watch. All of which is to say: please keep blogging.
    There are always going to be those who disagree or feel personally attacked ( if the riding boot fits, wear it, right….)
    Love that dark bay you have been posting about. He is fabulous.
    Say hi to Mark and Ruben for me.

  2. Gayle Atkins

    Thanks for coming on again. As you may know I have been championing you against many arguments critisizing you for “ripping the band-aid off” of the festering excuses for the epidemic of reckless riding that put feelings of a few riders above their safety and horse welfare and too often, life. Horses dont get to wear helmets and body armour.
    One mother even threatened to pull her daughter out of the sport, not to save her neck but to save her feelings from the “potential” of hurt.
    Wow, priorities and values are upside down.
    Thank you again for your tireless efforts to teach others, be a great rider and horsewoman. Most of all a hero and standing up against a tsunami of cultural wrongheadedness. Its much easier to run away or get in a raft and float. But maybe your efforts will begin to turn the tide. I sure hope so.
    The best event riders, like you, are the most respected horsemen of all the sports.
    It’s a high bar to reach, well worth the effort and not for feint of character.

  3. Tracey A

    Great post and super well written!

  4. Briana

    Wow!! Meika, while I’m not surprised by your honesty – that’s one of the reasons I’ve always respected you so much. I am in awe of your self assessment and believe in you so much more because of it. You are an amazing rider and I wish I could train with you.

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